Wednesday, March 28, 2012

A Little Taper Time Can Go A Long Way

But Knowing What is Right and Doing What is Right Can Often Be A Challenge  and the New Bedford Half Marathon was just one of those instances.

Part of the 2012 GMAA Team

GMAA's select Premier driver
The New Bedford Half Marathon held in New Bedford, MA. has become a big annual event for our local running club, The Green Mountain Athletic Association.  We have so many club runners participating now that we charter our own Premier bus to drive us down there and fill up all the seats and then some. This race is also a big club race for New England and has grown to over 3000 participants.  Typically a fast paced race with always some wind on the course.  This year was no different and the weather was ideal with temps in the 50's with only a moderate breeze at times.

For the last 2 months I have been cranking out mostly high mileage weeks to prepare for the Massanutten Mountain Trails 100 in May (also known as the Toe Breaker 100).  Knowing that the New Bedford Half would be an all out fast race, I had planned on bringing down the mileage and intensity a bit, especially during the second half of race week.  For the first half I figured I would get some miles in with a nice 10 mile trail run on Monday and threw in a 20 mile run on Tuesday on the back rolling dirt roads which turned it into a unexpected 20 mile tempo run.  Wednesday another 10 miles of trails.  Should have been time to back off.  Thursday I decided to run the Rolling Irish Half course and was running late for the Thursday night group run so that turned into a tempo run.  Another 20 mile day.  Friday just a nice rolling 10 miler but feeling tired.  Saturday only 4 miles, but hills.  2 miles up, 2 miles pounding downhill.  Pre-race I did a shake down run before breakfast and then an hour before race time decided the legs were stiff so ran another 5-6 miles.  So by race time, I had in over 80 miles for the week and not the easiest.  On top of all that, I had been fighting a chest cold for the past 10 days.  (I thought I could run the shmeg out of me).

Start of the 2012 New Bedford Half Marathon
When the race gun went off I knew my plan was not working.  It's a fast pace right from the start and continues 2 miles slightly downhill.  I was running at a steady 6 minute mile which is slow for those 2 miles but the thing I noticed most was that my legs were just dead.  Hmm, go figure.  I can usually get a away with mini-tapers but I sort of forgot even that.  For the rest of the race I just held on.  I settled in, did my thing.  The only part I enjoyed was the hill at mile 12.  While others were slowing down I was starting to feel better and just kept going.  At the finish I wasn't even winded at all so I know I hadn't pushed hard, not that my legs were capable that day of turning over any faster.  I was lucky to even manage a 6:19 ave pace for the race.  Bob and I did a little cool down afterwards before chowing down on some lunch.  And if that wasn't enough, when I got back to Burlington after the race I had to pick up some groceries but before shopping I threw on the shoes and ran a 4 mile loop.  I sat in the bus for 5 hours so I figured it was time to get the kinks out.  And thus ended another 100 mile week and a forgotten taper for which I paid the price.  Live and learn.... again.
GMAA Team Organizer Sarah Waterman

There were some great highlights of the race for our club.  Friend and ultra training partner Bob Ayers threw down an impressive PR at the age of 51 and kicked my butt.  He must have a good coach:).  Norm Larson as usual kicked overall butt in the 50 age category with a time of 1:14:30.  Joe Noonan, the top finisher for GMAA ran an incredible 1:13:51.  Not bad for a 43 year old master runner.  And there were many other PR's set for the GMAA individuals.  A good day overall!!  Here are the final team RESULTS.

Special Thanks to Sarah Waterman for organizing this event!

Since New Bedford I've been racking up the miles.  Running trails as much as possible especially with two weeks of mid summer weather.  All of the ice is gone now except in the highest of elevations and the mud is almost non-existent due to the extremely snow-less winter.  The single track trails are dryer now than they were at most anytime last year.  With that in mind, it's time to renew your membership to the Fellowship of the Wheel!  The Fellowship has created some of the nicest single track trail networks in the state and are available right here in Chittenden County.  For a small donation of $35 you can help support this organization that will continue to maintain and create new and exciting trails to bike and run on.  Here's a link to the Fellowship of the Wheel.  And by being a member you also get discounts at Catamount Outdoor Family Center in Williston for the Tuesday Night Trail Series to begin in May.

Another fast trainer on this out and back dirt road 10K with only a small amount of mud to deal with.  A noon start for this race was perfect as you could sleep late, have a nice breakfast and then go run at a reasonable hour.  Plus the weather was looking much better for the afternoon once the morning rains blew out.  With another high mileage week, I did manage to keep the harder workouts to a minimum so the legs actually felt ok for this race.  The course is constantly rolling and this year provided a headwind for the first half but then at the turnaround, a tail wind :)  This year brought about many college age youngins to run which was fun to watch.  Still we had master Binney Mitchell and senior Norm Larson to challenge the kids.  I ran much of the race with a 19 year old youngin but shortly after the turnaround, I took a slight lead.  Overall, a decent beginning of the day with more mountain running to come to finish the day.  After the race and some donuts to snack on it was time to head to the mountains.

Leaving the race I was torn between Mt. Mansfield and Camel's Hump.  With summer weather over the last 2 weeks, much of the now cover was now gone and only 28 inches at the Mt. Mansfield stake remained.  I finally decided on the Camel's Hump version.  With varied conditions, a quick 5 mile up and down would be more predictable and I thought.

Camel's Hump
I had planned on driving up to the parking lot to the start of the Burrow's Trail head.  From there it's a quick up and down, typically 70 - 90 minutes total.  Driving up Camel's Hump Road I was stopped a few miles short by road closed signs.  Mud Season has caused some havoc on many back dirt roads and I guess this was no exception.  So I found a place off on a side road to park.  I had no pack with me and did have the microspikes but decided not to hand carry them figuring on not really needing them much.  Also I decided to not bring any water or food.  I figured this would be quick.  The first 2 miles along the road are mostly uphill.  I kept at a slow pace trying not to overheat as I knew the summit could be cold and windy and was socked in the clouds.  Once I got to the Forest City Trail I decided to go on the trails to get to the Burrows Trail Head in an effort to avoid a big, mean German Shepherd who I've been visited with in the past.  The Forest City Trail was in great shape.  Mostly dry, no snow and very little mud.  A mile later, I hooked onto the Burrow's Trail.  About half way up I stated hitting some snow and ice, mostly avoidable.  It wasn't much longer that I was hitting more serious ice on this mostly north facing trail buried in the trees.  Now it was getting difficult.  I had to find wet rocks and roots for "better traction" and it was just slow going.  The final accent was steeper and included this glazed over ice sections and the only way up was to hold on to trees until you could find better footing.  Once above treeline, the warm sun and temps from last week had melted the snow and ice.  Finally on the summit.  Looking at my watch it was 5:30 PM.  It had taken me 1 1/2 hours to summit.  A bit longer than expected.  In an effort to try to eliminate some of the snow and ice on the way down I decided to take the Long Trail South to Forest City.  I figured the south facing trail would have less snow and ice.  Yes it was a longer way out but hopefully quicker.  Instead of a 5 miler, this was turning into an 11 miler.  Would I make it out before darkness, another challenge?  Of course no headlamp either with sunset around 7:00 PM.  Onward I went.  There was much less snow and ice for a while but then deeper snow post holing and ice returned in the thicker woods.  It was an effort but not unbearable until I hit a section that was totally glazed over.  Not much pitch to it but all the same, my feet flew out from under me and down I went, hard, on my back. Not good.  I landed hard on one of my elbows too and was just waiting for another bursa to pop up.  I finally made it to the Forest City cut off and the trail was looking reasonable with very little snow and ice remaining.  At the same time, the brain clock was going off telling me it wanted food and drink.  Been there before.  I still had a good 3-4 miles to go and was feeling a bit woozy and needed some calories.  You think I would have been smart enough to at least carry a couple GU's, but no.  After a while I was eyeing the dirty snow thinking how bad can that be??  And the mountain streams were running, what were my chances of Giardia this time of year?  Been there, had that before so unless it's an emergency, I try to stay clear of that possibility.  So I backed off a bit to conserve and usually the body responds, finds some other fuel sources and allows me to continue.  Slow and steady I exited the Forest City Trail and after another two miles of mostly downhill I reached the car just after 7:00 PM to find some much needed cold chocolate milk waiting to revive me as darkness was setting in :)

Other Notable Ultra Events:  The New Jersey Ultra Festival also went on this past weekend with a few Vermonters representing this area.  Locals Jen Sorrell and John Lacroix went down to take on the 100 mile event while Kristin Lundy competed in the 100K event.  All were successful in completing their events so congrats to fellow ultra runners!!  Here are the full RESULTS.

New Pearl Izumi SynchroFuel

Other Highlights of the last month, I received a new shipment of some awesome shoes by Pearl Izumi.  In the last week I've tried out 3 new shoes that have been a real treat to run on!  I've already been running on the Pearl Izumi SyncroFuel XC Trail Shoes but tried out the new Peak II Trail Running Shoe which is a more minimalist shoe.  Lightweight yet aggressive on the trails and comfortable.  I took these out on a 2 hour ride on the single track trails of the Forest and Sleepy Hollow and they were a blast!  The next day Aliza took me out for some speed work in Burlington.  For that I had on the new Pearl Izumi Streak II Shoe which is their road racing flat.  Lightweight yet enough cush to take on a marathon distance.  I even used these at the track workout last night and they felt great!  (GMAA track workouts at CVU on Tuesday nights!) Pearl Izumi also has the road version of the SyncroFuel XC, the SyncroFuel Road II which has been great as a lightweight trainer for the roads and also on the back dirt roads.  In all, they have a totally redesigned lineup for this year that seems to be just awesome!!  And of course, the clothing line is incredible too.

This month in Dog Attacks:  I must look like a pork chop to dogs as I run by as I seem to attract far too many.
Is this what I look like?
Nasty Rottweiler
Last week I had a Rottweiler come after me.  I thought he was on the other side of an underground fence...until he made it out to the road.  I quickly made to the other side of the road and was heading to a hedgerow for protection but found a nice stick on my way, also figuring Mr. Rottweiler didn't really care about any hedgerow.  I stopped in the road with my stick and looked this dog right in the eyes and challenged him, yelling as loud as I could.  He finally backed off.
The only good thing, I was feeling sluggish on my run up until then.  Somehow I found some new energy for the rest of the run.

Door Stopper Wheat Bread
Good Banana Bread
The NEW FOOD PLAN (meatless) has now been going on 6 months.  So far so good as long as I focus on eating more calories before any major run.  I've also been experimenting on baking to try to mix in more variety.  Making wheat bread has not been very successful.  The first attempt although not great was at least edible.  The second attempt was a true door stopper.   I did discover a good recipe for banana bread and it was excellent!  My apple crisp is also a winner.

OUTDOOR SHOWER is open for the season.  With the warmer temps I got the solar heated unit in place again. Timing to catch the warmest heat of the sun is crucial this time of year.  Not working this week.

That's about it for now.  Looking forward to some fun upcoming races!

See you on the trails :)

"Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that's where you will find success." 
- Thomas J. Watson